The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, is the application given out by the United States government to help them determine whether or not you’re eligible for federal grants. They determine how much your family will be able to pay for your education and compare it to how much it costs to attend your school and use this information to make the decisions about educational grants and how much money they can give to you. The application period for the FAFSA lasts from January 1 of any year until June 30 of the next year.
So how do you go about filling out the FAFSA? First, you should gather all the documents and information you’ll need when filling out the application. Here’s a list of some of the things you’ll need to have on hand.
Social Security Number
Social Security Numbers of Your Parents
Federal Income Tax Return
Federal Income Tax Returns of Your Parents
Records of Untaxed Income
Recent Investment Activities
The next step to take is figuring out whether you want to fill out the application online or on paper. You can print out the FAFSA form and mail it in once completed, but The Department of Education encourages you to fill it out online instead. It’s easier than writing everything out and it takes a lot less time to do, plus it’s likely easier for the government to process your information electronically. When applying online, you’ll need to set up a PIN that will allow you to sign into your FAFSA each year you need to reapply.
Once you’ve printed out the form or logged into the application online, now it’s time to actually fill it out. You should set aside some time to do so, as it may take a while. There are instructions for each section and a live chat feature with customer service if you get confused. You also have the option of filling out part of the questions at one time, saving the application, and filling out the rest at a later date. As long as the whole application is done by the deadline, it doesn’t matter if you do it in stages.
Filling out the FAFSA may seem like a painful process, but the benefits you could get from it and the educational grants information you find out about far outweigh the inconvenience. The government gives out billions of dollars in student aid each year and getting your fair share will help you afford college.